Two college chums from Cambridge are driving along a country road in a battered Mini in the middle of December. Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ is playing noisily on the car stereo. They are both wearing overcoats as the heating is not working. One is a tall, gangly type with frizzy, dark hair and studious glasses. He is wearing a college scarf and sits hunched in the passenger seat with a map spread out over his knees and most of the dashboard. He is fighting with the map and almost shouting to make himself heard…
Jim: I tell you, I was going to marry her, Freddie: Just my luck she had to go and get herself murdered.
The driver is a good looking, slightly serious young man who is trying to remain patient.
Freddie: But you’ve only met her once. And besides, who said anything about murder? I thought she was just missing.
Jim: Slow down. That must have been the turning.
The car screeches to a halt and backs up, then makes a turn into the drive of a country house. The two drive along for a while through a corridor of trees…
Freddie: Anyway, I thought marrying your cousin was frowned on these days.
Jim: Bollocks to that. What’s good enough for the Habsburgs is good enough for me.
An enormous mansion comes into view.
Christ, I didn’t realise the old girl was this loaded.
Freddie parks the car in the gravel drive, and an elderly butler, Jenkins, dressed in sober black with a wing collar, greets them.
Jenkins: Good afternoon, sir. You must be Master James.
Jim: Jim will do fine, thanks.
Jenkins: Very well, Master James.
Jim (ignoring the slip):
This is Freddie, by the way.
Freddie: How do you do?
Jenkins (bowing to Freddie):
If you will step this way, gentlemen. Mrs Bellingham is expecting you.
As they are walking through, Jim whispers to Freddie…
Jim: I can’t believe she has a butler called Jenkins!
He leads them to the drawing room, where an elderly woman wearing jodhpurs and riding boots is standing by the window drinking sherry. Mrs Bellingham looks the fearsome type, with a piercing eye and a voice that discourages argument.
Mrs Bell.: Ah, James. Welcome to Grove End. And who is this nice young man you’ve brought with you? Thank you, Jenkins
Jim: People call me Jim now, Grandma. This is Freddie, a chum from college. He’s come to help find Estelle.
Freddie: How do you do, Mrs Bellingham? I hope I can help.
Jenkins: Luncheon is served, madam.
Mrs Bell.: Of course. The two of you must be starving. Come this way…Freddie, you may take my arm. Jenkins will take care of the luggage. Jenkins?!
They go into the enormous dining room, with Jim padding unhappily along behind.
Cut to the dining room, where an elegant light lunch is on the table. Mrs Bellingham is sitting at the head of the enormous table, while Freddie and Jim are on opposite sides. Jim is picking at a sandwich, examining it to see whether it contains any meat or fish. He is vegetarian.
Over lunch, Mrs Bellingham explains the Estelle situation to Freddie.
Mrs Bell.: It seems she is having trouble with a rather persistent young admirer. She is not interested of course. Far too good for him. She thought he might turn violent so she decided to stay with some friends for a while. I called the Clarkes – such nice people – but it seems she never arrived. That was two days ago. I would have called the police, but she insisted I shouldn’t, silly girl.
Freddie: I’m terribly sorry.
Mrs Bell.: Well, worse things happen at sea, I suppose. We shall just have to find her ourselves.
Jim: But there’s only three of us. She could be anywhere
Mrs Bell. (triumphantly):
That’s why we have the horses.
Mrs Bellingham plants her napkin in front of her and leaves the table. Jim and Freddie follow suit. They go outside, where the butler appears with three beautiful horses and two pairs of Wellingtons, held at arm’s length.
Mrs Bell.: Do you ride, Freddie?
Freddie: I think I can manage. My father used to take me foxhunting when I was younger.
Mrs Bell.: Excellent. Then we’ll take the horses over the moor. It’s much quicker
Jim (muttering): I don’t agree with blood sports…
Mrs Bell. (overhearing):
James, you can follow us in the car.
Freddie exchanges his shoes for the Wellington boots offered him by Jenkins, who leads the spare horse back to the stables (still carrying the other pair of boots at arm’s length). Jim sulks but gets into the car and starts the engine. Mrs Bellingham immediately gallops off, with Freddie trying to keep up as best he can. They go through a gate, which leads into open countryside. Jim starts the car, and, with a grim look, drives after them.
Mrs Bellingham is galloping along at a stiff pace, the wind blowing her shawl behind her in flamboyant fashion.
Mrs Bell.: I do so love a good ride, don’t you?
Freddie: Yes, but…shouldn’t we wait for Jim?
Mrs Bell.: The fresh air, the smell of the heather – isn’t it heavenly! The doctor positively forbids me – far too dangerous, he says. What tosh!
I’m sure he… has your…best interests at heart.
At this point, they come to a five bar gate. Freddie slows but Mrs Bellingham digs her heels in and jumps it. On the other side, she reins in her horse and looks round…
Mrs Bell.: Come on, there’s nothing to it. I thought you were a keen foxhunter. Don’t tell me you’ve never jumped a gate before.
Freddie gives himself room, a little warily, and succeeds in clearing the gate, almost falling off in the process.
Mrs Bell.: There you are. What did I tell you. Nothing to it.
Jim is now visible from a distance, the Mini making heavy weather of the muddy field. He reaches the gate and stops. We see him through the windscreen, hands still on the wheel, looking despairingly at the gate. After a moment, he opens the door and gets out to open it. He slips in the mud and falls flat. With gritted teeth, he opens the gate and drives through, following the two riders who are by now merely specks in the distance.
Freddie: Are you sure we shouldn’t wait for Jim? Where are we going?
Mrs Bell.: I mean to confront him, the scoundrel!
Freddie: What scoundrel? I mean, who are we going to confront.
Mrs Bell.: Why, Edward Larkham, of course. [In a disapproving tone] I believe his friends call him ‘Ed’.
They ride on. After a minute or two, Freddie notices that they are apparently being followed. A girl with long, blonde hair is riding a parallel course, some hundred yards away. She is clearly looking at him. He rides on, and still she keeps pace, staring at him all the time. He returns her gaze, fascinated.
Freddie: Who is that girl over there? Do you know her?
Mrs Bell. (without looking round):
It’s probably Anna, one of the girls from the village. I often see her riding out on the moor. Now, come along. We’re almost there.
They reach Edward Larkham’s house in a nearby village. As Freddie anxiously looks out for Jim in the distance, Mrs Bellingham strides up to the front door and knocks heavily, three times. No answer.
Freddie: He might not be in, I suppose.
Mrs Bell.: Nonsense.
She raps on the door again, even more imperiously this time, and after a few moments a young man opens the door. He is unshaven, unkempt and wearing only a towel.
Mrs Bell.: What have you done with my granddaughter?
Ed: I say…
Before he has time to answer, Mrs Bellingham has produced a rather large revolver and is prodding him with it.
Mrs Bell.: This is my husband’s service revolver. He served in India, you know. It can knock a hole through a man’s heart at fifty paces. Now, where is my granddaughter?
Ed is now backing away from the door, thoroughly terrified.
Ed: I swear she’s not here. You can search the house if you like.
Mrs Bellingham strides through the small cottage, opening every door. At last, she comes across one that is locked…
Mrs Bell.: Aha! So this is where you’re keeping her, is it? Freddie, break the door down!
Freddie: Er, is that really necessary? I mean…
Mrs Bell.: For goodness’ sake! My granddaughter’s life is at stake. If you don’t break this door down at once, I shall be forced to shoot the lock off.
Freddie, abashed, takes a few steps backwards and runs at the door. At the same time, the young female occupant, who is wearing only a towel, unlocks the door and opens it to find Freddie running full tilt at her. The two collide and end up in a clinch on the bed. Mrs Bellingham looks disapprovingly at Freddie as he disentangles himself from the sheets, puts away her pistol and turns for the door.
Mrs Bell. (pausing for effect):
I shall return!
Outside, Jim is only just arriving. He and the Mini are almost unrecognisably muddy from the journey. He gets out as Mrs Bellingham emerges from the house.
Mrs Bell.: Good heavens, James! What have you done to yourself? We’d better get you home and cleaned up. I’ll have Jenkins find you something decent to wear. Dinner is at eight o’clock sharp. Don’t be late.
Mrs Bellingham mounts her horse and wheels for home. Freddie emerges, apologising profusely to Ed and the young woman in the hallway…
Freddie: I’m so sorry. I really am. You must excuse her. She’s…er…distraught. I really am most terribly sorry…
Jim: What happened? Did you find Estelle?
Freddie: No, but your grandmother nearly shot someone. You’ll forgive me for saying so, Jim, but she doesn’t seem quite…all there sometimes
Jim: Oh, absolutely. Mad as the proverbial. I wouldn’t be surprised if she made up this whole thing herself.
Freddie (slowly): Let me get this straight. You made me drive you a hundred and fifty miles in sub-zero temperatures on a wild goose chase?!
Jim (in an injured tone):
Well, I don’t know for sure, of course. And besides, I thought you could use some cheering up after Jennifer…
Freddie looks serious for a moment, then mounts his horse.
Freddie: I’ll see you back at the house.
Cut to the drive of Grove End, where Freddie and Jim are just arriving. A stable boy takes Freddie’s horse, while Jim gets out of the car and ostentatiously holds out his car keys. The boy ignores him and turns towards the stables. Jim stuffs them in his pocket again. Jenkins appears to show them to their rooms.
Cut to the three of them climbing the main staircase. At one particular door, Jenkins takes out a bunch of keys and opens it. This is to be Freddie’s room. It is sumptuous, with a four poster bed on one side and a roaring open fireplace on the other.
Freddie: Thank you, Jenkins. [To Jim] I’ll see you later
Jenkins bows and Freddie enters the bedroom, closing the door behind him. In one corner stands his suitcase. He opens it to find it has been emptied. He looks around, puzzled. Opening the wardrobe door, he finds his clothes are hanging neatly on the rail. He opens a couple of drawers and also finds his underwear neatly folded away.
Cut to Jenkins, who lets Jim into the equivalent of the servants’ quarters, with a single bed and no fire. It is freezing.
Jenkins: My apologies, Master James. The West Wing is closed for the Winter and this is the best we could do at short notice.
Jenkins withdraws silently. Jim looks round and goes up to the washbasin. He plays with the hot tap. Nothing happens at first, then a loud banging makes him turn it off again. He thumps the tap with the flat of his hand and regrets it instantly. He shakes his hand to get rid of the pain.
Cut to Freddie’s room, where he is just emerging from the en-suite. A steaming bath awaits him. A knock at the door…
Freddie: Who is it?
Jenkins: Jenkins, sir. Mrs Bellingham asked me to find you some suitable attire.
Freddie lets him in. Jenkins is carrying a complete white tie outfit, from shoes to wing collar.
Jenkins: I believe this should fit you. The late Mr Bellingham was a 40 long.
Freddie looks slightly uncomfortable for a moment, then throws the clothes on the bed and begins to get dressed. Jenkins withdraws, closing the door behind him, and glides down the hall.
He reaches Jim’s room. As he is about to knock, sounds of howling come from within, where we see Jim attempting to wash himself with cold water. A knock at the door…
Jim: Just a moment…Ow!
Jim grabs his dressing gown, stubs his toe on his suitcase and has to hop across to open the door. Jenkins enters and presents him with a package of clothing.
Jenkins: I took the liberty of providing you with appropriate apparel, Master James.
Jim: What am I supposed to do with that lot?
Jenkins: Mrs Bellingham’s guests always dress for dinner. It’s something of a tradition at Grove End. If you need any assistance in the matter of the bow-tie, I should be only too happy to oblige.
Jim (sniffily): I’m sure I can manage, thank you, Jenkins.
Cut to Freddie and Jim entering the dining room together. Freddie looks very dapper, but Jim’s clothes are threadbare and a little on the small side. He looks faintly ridiculous. Waiting for them is Mrs Bellingham, wearing a sparkling burgundy evening dress and jewels that look too large to be real.
Mrs Bell.: My word, Freddie. You do look handsome. And James…[her voice trails off as she finds nothing she can say]
The two sit down on either side of Mrs Bellingham as before. A sumptuous feast has been prepared, starting with soup, which Jenkins ladles out with a practised hand.
Mrs Bell.: I rang the Clarkes again, by the way. Still no word of Estelle. Whatever can have happened to her.
Freddie: I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, Mrs Bellingham.
Mrs Bell.: Thank you, dear. Kind of you to say so. But I really am at my wits’end.
They drink their soup and the plates are cleared away and replaced with the main course, lobster thermidore, accompanied by various silver dishes, full of steaming vegetables.
Mrs Bell.: Do help yourselves. I’m afraid we’re a little short staffed this evening.
Freddie digs in, and Jim serves himself with a pile of vegetables. After a moment…
Mrs Bell.: You’re not eating your lobster, James. What ever is the matter?
Jim: I’m a vegetarian, Grandma. That means I don’t eat dead animals
Mrs Bell.: Well, it’s no good saying that now, is it. The chef’s gone home. Jenkins! Would you try to produce something fit for James to eat?
Jenkins: I’ll do my best, madam.
Mrs Bell. (to Jim):
I suppose this is what they teach you at Cambridge, is it? It certainly wasn’t like that in my day, I must say…
An awkward silence ensues, before Jenkins re-emerges with an enormous plate, covered with an impressive silver dome. He places it in front of Jim, who licks his lips in anticipation.
Jim: Ah, now this is more like it.
Jenkins removes the cover with a flourish to reveal…a boiled egg with a number of Marmite soldiers. Jim stares incredulously.
Mrs Bell.: Jenkins has many qualities. I’m afraid culinary expertise is not one of them. Thank you, Jenkins.
Cut to the end of dinner, as the brandy is being passed round.
Mrs Bell.: Well, gentlemen. I think I shall turn in. We have an anxious day ahead of us. Goodnight.
Freddie and Jim: Goodnight.
Freddie: I’m sure something will turn up.
Mrs Bellingham nods her appreciation and makes a stately exit.
As they walk upstairs after dinner, Jim complains to Freddie about Mrs Bellingham…
Jim: I can’t believe she keeps calling me James. She knows I hate it. And she knows I’m vegetarian, too. [As Freddie opens the door to his bedroom…] And I can’t believe you managed to bag the best room… [In an injured tone] Blood is thicker than water, you know
Freddie: Goodnight, Jim.
Freddie undresses and gets into bed. He lies pensively on his back, his hands folded behind his head, staring at the ceiling.
Cut to Jim, tossing and turning in his freezing room.
Cut back to Freddie, who gradually falls asleep. After a few moments’ silence, the door opens. Enter a girl with long blonde hair, the same one he saw on the moor that afternoon. She sits on the bed. His eyes open:
Anna (putting her fingers to his lips):
Shh. Listen to me. Estelle is in danger. You must help me. She has been kidnapped. [Pause] They want £100,000 or they’re going to kill her.
Freddie: What do you mean? Kidnapped?
Anna: Tomorrow, a ransom note will be delivered and, if I know Mrs Bellingham, she’ll refuse to pay. You must try to persuade her to hand over the money. These people are dangerous. I know them. They’ll stop at nothing. Will you help me?
Freddie: Yes, of course. But how do you know all this?
Anna: I can’t explain. I have to go.
She kisses him on the lips quickly and disappears. Freddie sinks back into bed, bewildered but thrilled at Anna’s unexpected appearance. He touches his lips thoughtfully.
Next morning, at breakfast, as Freddie and Jim come down…
Mrs Bell.: Good morning, James. Good morning, Freddie. [To James] I hope you slept well?
Jim: About as well as anyone can in a freezer…
Mrs Bell.: [Rather pointedly] And Freddie, did you sleep well?
Freddie: Er, fine thanks. Yes.
Mrs Bell.: Do sit down?
Awaiting them at the table is a traditional English breakfast. Jim looks at the sausages and bacon in disgust. He opts for the eggs and toast. Freddie sits down and helps himself to the works.
Mrs Bell. (sniping at James):
I do so admire a man with a healthy appetite. It’s so refreshing these days.
Freddie smiles weakly at Mrs Bellingham and looks towards Jim, who is sulking. At that moment, Jenkins enters the dining room bearing a letter on a silver salver.
Jenkins (clearing his throat):
This arrived for you this morning, madam. It was delivered by hand.
Freddie puts down his knife and fork and looks up.
Mrs Bell.: By hand? Whose hand, exactly?
Jenkins: I’m afraid I couldn’t say, madam. I was engaged in conversation with the maid at the time, regarding a small disciplinary matter that has now been happily resolved.
Mrs Bell.: How strange. I wonder what it can be.
She slices it open with the letter knife and opens the contents. It is a ransom note, demanding £100,000 in exchange for Estelle’s life.
Mrs Bell. (holding it to her chest):
Jim: What is it?
Mrs Bell.: It’s Estelle. They want £100,000 by this afternoon or they’ll kill her.
Jim: Is that all. I would have asked for at least a million. You’re good for it, aren’t you, Grandma?
Freddie (frowning at Jim):
He takes the letter and reads it aloud…
Freddie: We have your granddaughter. Leave £100,000 in £20 notes in a suitcase under the big oak tree at Brampton by 5pm. Come alone. No police. We’ll be watching. We get the money, you get the girl. Later. Anything goes wrong, we send you the body.
Mrs Bell.: What do you think we should do?
Well, I think it’s probably best to co-operate. That’s what I think the police tell you to do. Give them the money, then they track down the kidnappers afterwards.
Mrs Bell.: Well, one thing’s for certain. I’m not paying a penny until I know Estelle is alive. Freddie, you must go and make sure she’s safe. Go to Brampton and see if the kidnappers show up. They’re bound to if you go alone.
Jim: That’s madness. They’ll chop him up into little bits and post him back to Grove End.
Mrs Bell.: James!
Freddie: It’s all right. I should go. I mean…I’m happy to go. I think I can remember where the tree is. I’ll take the car. Do you have a suitcase I can use?
Jenkins miraculously appears with an old suitcase…
Jenkins: I took the precaution of filling it with back copies of The Times…To add weight, you understand?
Freddie: Thank you, Jenkins. [To Mrs Bellingham and Jim] Well, I suppose I’ll see you later.
Mrs Bell.: Good luck.
Jim: If they turn nasty, just show them your old school tie.
He leaves the house, jumps into the car and drives off. He takes the long route rather than driving across the fields and eventually arrives at Brampton. He parks the car and walks towards the big oak tree, carrying the suitcase.
He waits for a few seconds in the cold air. A woman on a horse approaches. It is Anna.
Freddie: Anna! What are you doing here?
Anna: Never mind. Where’s the money?
Freddie gives her the suitcase. Anna opens it. We see copies of The Times. She looks at him, aghast.
Freddie: She won’t give it to us. Not without proof that Estelle’s alive.
Anna: You must go back and get the money. Tell Mrs Bellingham that you saw Estelle, and that the kidnapper will do something nasty if she doesn’t hand over the money.
She gives him a lock of blonde hair.
Anna: Here, this is Estelle’s. Give it to Mrs Bellingham.
Freddie: But what if she doesn’t have the money?
Anna: Don’t worry. She keeps enough in the safe in her bedroom.
Freddie: How do you know all this? Anna, what’s going on?
Anna: Never mind, there’s no time to explain. You have to go back. [She bends down and kisses him] Please?
Freddie drives home. When he returns, suitcase in hand, Mrs Bellingham and Jim are in the drawing room playing cards.
Mrs Bell.: Gin!
Mrs Bellingham collects Jim’s stake of matches and adds them to her considerable pile.
Jim: Thank God you arrived. I’ve lost a whole box of matches already.
Freddie: It’s all right. Estelle’s fine. I saw her. But these people are serious. You have to give them the money by five o’clock or they said they would cut off…her toe.
Mrs Bell.: Her toe! Goodness me, the brutes.
Freddie: I took this from Estelle.
He shows her the lock of hair…
Mrs Bell.: Oh, my poor darling…Give me the suitcase.
Freddie gives her the suitcase and she hurriedly leaves the room. Jim looks at Freddie, who looks away uncomfortably.
Jim: So who are these ‘serious people’? How many of them were there?
Freddie: Oh, four…I think. At least. One of them had a gun and he sounded like he would use it.
Jim: What did they look like?
Freddie: The one with the gun was…medium height, er…medium build…They were all wearing masks, so I couldn’t get a good look at any of them.
Jim: I see. Sounds like kidnappers to me, all right.
A pause as Jim shuffles the pack of cards, then Mrs Bellingham returns with the suitcase.
Mrs Bell.: Here you are, Freddie. You’re right. We have to give them the money. It’s the only thing we can do.
Freddie: You’re sure about this.
Mrs Bell.: Quite sure. It’s no good trying to bargain with these people.
Freddie: How do we know they’ll release Estelle?
Mrs Bell.: We’ll just have to trust them.
Mrs Bellingham looks anxiously at him before Freddie leaves for the second time. We see him driving the car over the same roads. This time, Anna is waiting for him. Her horse is tied up beside her.
Freddie (getting out and giving her the suitcase):
Here it is. She’s decided to co-operate.
He gives Anna the money. She begins to count it.
Freddie: It’s all there. [Pause] Anna, just tell me one thing. What have you got to do with all this?
Anna (looking seriously at Freddie):
I have to go along with them. You don’t understand. They’ll kill me too if I don’t do what they tell me to. They said I’ve got to be the courier. Please don’t tell anyone I’m involved, not even Jim. Please!
Freddie kisses her and she puts her arms around him.
Freddie: Of course I won’t, Anna. I just…needed to know. Take care.
Anna: I will.
She rides off and Freddie returns to the car. He drives off in the direction of Grove End, but half way along the road he stops the car. He switches off the engine and leans back to think things over.
Cut to the drawing room, where Jim and Mrs Bellingham are seated next to a pile of empty matchboxes. Freddie comes in.
Mrs Bell.: Freddie, you’ve been such a long time, we were beginning to think about supper.
Freddie: I’m sorry I’m late. The car wouldn’t start.
Mrs Bell.: Well, what news?
Freddie: Nothing to tell, really. I just left the suitcase and drove back…after the problem with the car, I mean.
Jim: Did you see any of the masked bandits of Brampton?
Freddie (coldly): No, I didn’t see anyone.
Mrs Bell.: We’ll just have to wait for news, I suppose. Poor Estelle! [Pause] Well, life must go on. I believe it’s time to dress for dinner.
Cut to the middle of dinner. Everyone is eating in silence, when Jenkins appears.
Jenkins: There is a telephone call for you, madam. It’s a Mrs Clarke calling.
Mrs Bellingham hurries away. Freddie and Jim look at each other. After a minute or two, she returns.
Mrs Bell. (smiling):
Thank goodness. Estelle is all right. She is with the Clarkes. She is tired and upset, of course – who wouldn’t be after such a dreadful ordeal – but nothing that a good night’s sleep won’t cure. They promised to drive her home tomorrow morning after breakfast.
Jim: What about the money?
Mrs Bell.: Oh, I don’t care about that. I hate to think of those villains getting away with it, it’s true, but I would have paid ten times as much for dear Estelle.
Freddie: There’s always the police, of course.
Mrs Bell.: I have considered that, but somehow, it all seems to matter so much less now that Estelle is safe. That’s the main thing, after all.
Freddie: Well, I suppose we’d better be heading off sometime tomorrow morning, too. I’d like to get back to Cambridge while it’s still light.
Jim: That may involve leaving before dawn, if we’re going in your Mini.
Freddie: I think 10 o’clock should be fine, if that’s all right with you, Mrs Bellingham.
Mrs Bell.: Well, it’s a shame you have to leave, of course, but at least you’ll have a chance to meet Estelle and have a little breakfast before you go.
Freddie: Thank you. It’s been quite a weekend, I must say. I’m just glad it all worked out in the end. Well, then. Goodnight.
Mrs Bell.: Goodnight.
Cut to a shot of Freddie, lying in bed with his arms behind his head, thinking…
Cut to a shot of Jim, curled up with a few extra blankets.
Cut to Freddie’s room again. After a few moments, the door knob turns and Anna appears again. She slips off her clothes to her underwear and gets into bed.
He awakes, sensing her presence…
Freddie: Anna! What are you doing here? Are you all…?
Anna: Shh!, she silences him with a kiss and rolls on top of him. They continue kissing…
Cut to Jim, tossing and turning in his blue and white striped pyjamas…
Cut back to Freddie and Anna, becoming passionate…
Meanwhile, Jim is punching his pillow, trying to get to sleep. Each time we see him, he is putting on more clothes. He is now wearing a check dressing gown and a white nightcap. His overcoat is spread across the bed.
Afterwards, as Anna lies in Freddie’s arms, she becomes pensive…
Anna: Freddie? Will you come away with me?
What do you mean?
Anna: Come with me to Rio. Just for a little while until things cool down.
Freddie (now wide awake):
What are you talking about?
Anna: Well, you know the kidnappers released Estelle?
Anna: Well, they didn’t. She escaped.
Anna: When I got back home this afternoon there was a message on my answering machine. It was Estelle calling from the Clarkes’, saying that she was safe and that I should keep the money.
Freddie: But you’d already given it to the kidnappers, right? [Pause, while Anna looks at him coolly]. You’ve still got it, haven’t you?
Anna: Nobody need ever know I got that message in time.
Freddie looks up at the ceiling, as the full implications of what she’s saying sink in.
Anna: If you’re coming, meet me tomorrow morning under the oak tree at Brampton. Ten thirty. Until tomorrow then.
She kisses him gently and leaves. Freddie doesn’t move. He has too much to think about…
Cut to breakfast…
Mrs Bell.: I’ve just had a telephone call from the Clarkes. Estelle was very tired so they thought they would let her sleep in. I’m afraid that means you’re going to miss her, and after all you’ve done.…I suppose you’re going back to Cambridge, are you…?
Freddie: Yes, we’d better be heading off.
Jim: Can’t we wait until Estelle gets back?
Freddie (kicking Jim under the table):
I thought you had to work on your thesis.
Jim (wincing): Oh, yes. I forgot about that. The thesis, yes…Oh, well. Do give her my regards.
Mrs Bell.: I’m sure she’ll be sorry to have missed you both.
Jenkins has packed their luggage and put it in the Mini.
They go outside. Mrs Bellingham comes down the steps to send them off.
Mrs Bell.: It was so nice to meet you, Freddie. I don’t know what we would have done without you. And James, always a pleasure. Goodbye. Come again soon.
Freddie: Goodbye. Thanks for everything.
They drive off. After a few moments, Jim breaks the silence…
Jim: Well, at least she wasn’t murdered. That’s a bit of luck, I suppose.
Jim: I say, what did you have to go and kick me for? You’ve given me a nasty great bruise.
Freddie: Oh, I’m sorry about that. I just wanted to get going.
As Jim and Freddie drive out through the estate, Freddie catches a glimpse of Anna, sitting on her horse a hundred yards away on the driver’s side and looking straight at him. Jim is too busy map-reading again, but Freddie sees her and looks at his watch. It is twenty-five past ten. He stops the car.
Freddie: Listen, Jim. Have you ever done anything crazy, I mean really crazy?
Jim (rather proudly):
Well, I have been known to wear a blown up condom on my head. And there was that time when…
Freddie: I don’t mean when you’re drunk. This is serious. I hate to do this to you, but I have to go and meet someone. It’s important.
Jim (unfurling the map again):
OK, where do we have to get to?
Freddie: Sorry, Jim. I have to do this by myself, all right? Do you mind catching the train back?
Jim: You want me to walk to the station – in this weather – while you go and see some piece of totty? Christ, you move fast. What’s her name?
Freddie: Anna. But it’s not what you think. Honest…Please?
Jim gets out of the car, throws his rucksack down on the ground and thrusts his hands deep in his pockets. He watches as Freddie drives off, jumping up and down to keep warm. Suddenly, a phone rings. Jim searches every pocket before eventually finding it:
Jim: Hello?… Hi, Estelle. Or should I call you Anna?…Yes, he’s on his way. I must say, I never thought he would go for it. Grandma played her part to perfection, though. Even I began to believe her. All that business with the revolver. Poor old Ed. Still, I hope you have a good holiday. Sounds like a jolly good way to blow your inheritance…Oh, by the way, happy 21st…
The camera tracks back as Jim carries on talking, wandering down the road with his bags.